Aventine Hill
The Aventine Hill is one of the seven hills
Seven hills of Rome
The Seven Hills of Rome east of the river Tiber form the geographical heart of Rome, within the walls of the ancient city.The seven hills are:* Aventine Hill * Caelian Hill...

 on which ancient Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 was built. It belongs to Ripa
Ripa (rione of Rome)
Ripa is the XII rione of Rome. The logo is a white rudder on a red background, to remind the port of Ripa Grande, placed in Trastevere, but facing the rione.-External links:*...

, the twelfth rione
Rione is the name given to a ward in several Italian cities, the best-known of which is Rome. Unlike a quartiere, a rione is usually an official administrative subdivision...

, or ward, of Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...


Location and boundaries

The Aventine hill (in Latin, Aventinus Mons) is the southernmost of Rome's seven hills. It comprises two distinct heights, one greater to the northwest and one lesser to the southeast, divided by a steep cleft that provides the base for an ancient roadway between the heights. During the Republican era
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 the two hills may have been recognised as a single entity. The Augustan reforms of Rome's urban neighbourhoods (vici
Vicus (Rome)
In ancient Rome, the vicus was a neighborhood. During the Republican era, the four regiones of the city of Rome were subdivided into vici. In the 1st century BC, Augustus reorganized the city for administrative purposes into 14 regions, comprising 265 vici. Each vicus had its own board of...

) recognised the ancient road between the two heights (the modern Viale Aventino) as a common boundary between the new Regio XIII, which absorbed Aventinus Maior, and the part of Regio XII known as Aventinus Minor.

Etymology and mythology

Most Roman sources trace the name of the hill to a legendary king Aventinus
Aventinus (king)
Aventinus, one of the mythical kings of Alba Longa, who was buried on the Aventine Hill later named after him. He is said to have reigned thirty-seven years, and to have been succeeded by Procas, the father of Amulius....

. Servius identifies two kings of that name, one ancient Italic, and one Alban, both said to have been buried on the hill in remote antiquity. The hill, he says, was named after the first, Italic Aventinus or after the birds (aves) of ill omen that "rising from the Tiber" nested there. The Alban king would have been named after the hill. He cites and rejects Varro's proposition that the Sabines named the hill after the nearby Aventus river; likewise, he believes, the Aventinus
Aventinus (mythology)
Aventinus was a son of Hercules and the priestess Rhea mentioned in Virgil's Aeneid, Book vii. 656, as an ally of Mezentius and enemy of Aeneas :...

 fathered by Hercules
Hercules is the Roman name for Greek demigod Heracles, son of Zeus , and the mortal Alcmene...

 on Rhea Silvia
Rhea Silvia
Rhea Silvia , and also known as Ilia, was the mythical mother of the twins Romulus and Remus, who founded the city of Rome...

 was likely named after the Aventine hill, not vice versa.

The Aventine was a significant site in Roman mythology
Roman mythology
Roman mythology is the body of traditional stories pertaining to ancient Rome's legendary origins and religious system, as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans...

. In Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

's Aeneid, a cave on the Aventine's rocky slope next the river is home to the monstrous Cacus
In Roman mythology, Cacus was a fire-breathing giant monster and the son of Vulcan.-Mythology:Cacus lived in a cave in the Palatine Hill in Italy, the future site of Rome. To the horror of nearby inhabitants, Cacus lived on human flesh and would nail the heads of victims to the doors of his cave...

, killed by Hercules for stealing Geryon's cattle
In Greek mythology, Geryon , son of Chrysaor and Callirrhoe and grandson of Medusa, was a fearsome giant who dwelt on the island Erytheia of the mythic Hesperides in the far west of the Mediterranean. A more literal-minded later generation of Greeks associated the region with Tartessos in southern...

. In Rome's founding myth, the divinely fathered twins Romulus and Remus
Romulus and Remus
Romulus and Remus are Rome's twin founders in its traditional foundation myth, although the former is sometimes said to be the sole founder...

 hold a contest of augury, whose outcome determines the right to found, name and lead a new city, and to determine its site. In most versions of the story, Remus sets up his augural tent on the Aventine; Romulus sets his up on the Palatine
A palatine or palatinus is a high-level official attached to imperial or royal courts in Europe since Roman times...

. Each sees a number of auspicious birds (aves) that signify divine approval but Remus sees fewer than Romulus. Romulus goes on to found the city of Rome at the site of his successful augury. An earlier variant, found in Ennius
Quintus Ennius was a writer during the period of the Roman Republic, and is often considered the father of Roman poetry. He was of Calabrian descent...

 and some later sources, has Romulus perform his augury on one of the Aventine hills. Remus performs his elsewhere, perhaps on the southeastern height, the lesser of the Aventine's two hills, which has been tentatively identified with Ennius' Mons Murcus. Skutsch (1961) regards Ennius' variant as the most likely, with Romulus's Palatine augury as a later development, after common usage had extended the Aventine's name – formerly used for only the greater, northeastern height – to include its lesser neighbour. Augural rules and the mythos itself required that each twin take his auspices at a different place; therefore Romulus, who won the contest and founded the city, was repositioned to the more fortunate Palatine, the traditional site of Rome's foundation. The less fortunate Remus, who lost not only the contest but later, his life, remained on the Aventine: Servius notes the Aventine's reputation as a haunt of "inauspicious birds".


According to Roman tradition, the Aventine was not included within Rome's original foundation, and lay outside the city's ancient sacred boundary (pomerium
The pomerium or pomoerium , was the sacred boundary of the city of Rome. In legal terms, Rome existed only within the pomerium; everything beyond it was simply territory belonging to Rome.-Location and extensions:Tradition maintained that it was the original line ploughed by Romulus around the...

). The Roman historian Livy
Titus Livius — known as Livy in English — was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people. Ab Urbe Condita Libri, "Chapters from the Foundation of the City," covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome well before the traditional foundation in 753 BC...

 reports that Ancus Marcius
Ancus Marcius
Ancus Marcius was the legendary fourth of the Kings of Rome.He was the son of Marcius and Pompilia...

, Rome's fourth king, defeated the Latins
Latins (Italic tribe)
The Latins were a people of ancient Italy who included the inhabitants of the early City of Rome. From ca. 1000 BC, the Latins inhabited the small part of the peninsula known to the Romans as Old Latium , that is, the region between the river Tiber and the promontory of Monte Circeo The Latins (or...

 of Politorium
Politorium was a town in ancient Latium, Italy.In the early semi-legendary history of Rome, Politorium was one of a number of towns of the Latins who went to war with ancient Rome in the 7th century BC, during the reign of the Roman King Ancus Marcius. The Romans' first move in the war was to...

, and resettled them there. The Roman geographer Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

 credits Ancus with the building of a city wall to incorporate the Aventine. Others credit the same wall to Rome's sixth king, Servius Tullius
Servius Tullius
Servius Tullius was the legendary sixth king of ancient Rome, and the second of its Etruscan dynasty. He reigned 578-535 BC. Roman and Greek sources describe his servile origins and later marriage to a daughter of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, Rome's first Etruscan king, who was assassinated in 579 BC...

. The remains known as the Servian Wall
Servian Wall
The Servian Wall was a defensive barrier constructed around the city of Rome in the early 4th century BC. The wall was up to 10 metres in height in places, 3.6 metres wide at its base, 11 km long, and is believed to had 16 main gates, though many of these are mentioned only from...

 used stone quarried at Veii
Veii was, in ancient times, an important Etrurian city NNW of Rome, Italy; its site lies in Isola Farnese, a village of Municipio XX, an administrative subdivision of the comune of Rome in the Province of Rome...

, which was not conquered by Rome until c.393 BC, so the Aventine might have been part-walled, or an extramural suburb.

The Aventine appears to have functioned as some kind of staging post for the legitimate ingress
of foreign peoples and foreign cults into the Roman ambit. During the late regal era, Servius Tullius built a temple to Diana
Temple of Diana (Rome)
The Temple of Diana in ancient Rome was a Roman temple which, according to the early semi-legendary history of Rome, was built in the 6th century BC during the reign of the king Servius Tullius....

 on the Aventine, as a Roman focus for the new-founded Latin League
Latin league
The Latin League was a confederation of about 30 villages and tribes in the region of Latium near ancient Rome, organized for mutual defense...

. The Aventine's outlying position, its longstanding association with Latins and plebeians and its extra-pomerial position reflect its early marginal status. At some time around 493 BC, soon after the expulsion of Rome's last King and the establishment of the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

, the Roman senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

 provided a temple for the so-called Aventine Triad
Aventine Triad
The Aventine Triad is a modern term for the joint cult of the Roman deities Ceres, Liber and Libera. The cult was established ca. 493 BC within a sacred district on or near the Aventine Hill, traditionally associated with the Roman plebs...

 of Ceres
Ceres (mythology)
In ancient Roman religion, Ceres was a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. She was originally the central deity in Rome's so-called plebeian or Aventine Triad, then was paired with her daughter Proserpina in what Romans described as "the Greek rites of Ceres"...

, Liber
In ancient Roman religion and mythology, Liber , also known as Liber Pater was a god of viticulture and wine, fertility and freedom. He was a patron deity of Rome's plebeians and was part of their Aventine Triad. His festival of Liberalia became associated with free speech and the rights...

 and Libera
Libera (mythology)
Libera is a fertility goddess in ancient Roman religion. Her origins are unknown; she may have been a fertility goddess of archaic or pre-Roman Magna Graecia. Her Latin name is the feminine form of Liber,...

, patron deities of the Roman commoners or plebs
The plebs was the general body of free land-owning Roman citizens in Ancient Rome. They were distinct from the higher order of the patricians. A member of the plebs was known as a plebeian...

; the dedication followed one of the first in a long series of threatened or actual plebeian secessions. The temple overlooked the Circus Maximus
Circus Maximus
The Circus Maximus is an ancient Roman chariot racing stadium and mass entertainment venue located in Rome, Italy. Situated in the valley between the Aventine and Palatine hills, it was the first and largest stadium in ancient Rome and its later Empire...

 and the Temple of Vesta
Temple of Vesta
The Temple of Vesta is an ancient edifice in Rome, Italy, located in the Roman Forum near the Regia and the House of the Vestal Virgins. The temple's most recognizable feature is its circular footprint. Since the worship of Vesta began in private homes, the architecture seems to be a reminder of...

, and faced the Palatine Hill
Palatine Hill
The Palatine Hill is the centermost of the Seven Hills of Rome and is one of the most ancient parts of the city...

. It became an important repository for plebeian and senatorial records.

It is presumed that the Aventine was state-owned public land
Ager publicus
The ager publicus is the Latin name for the public land of Ancient Rome. It was usually acquired by expropriation from Rome's enemies.In the earliest periods of Roman expansion in central Italy, the ager publicus was used for Roman and Latin colonies...

; in c.456 BC a Lex Icilia allowed or granted the plebs property rights there. By c.391 BC, the city's overspill had overtaken the Aventine and the Campus Martius
Campus Martius
The Campus Martius , was a publicly owned area of ancient Rome about in extent. In the Middle Ages, it was the most populous area of Rome...

, and left the city vulnerable to attack; around that year, the Gauls
The Gauls were a Celtic people living in Gaul, the region roughly corresponding to what is now France, Belgium, Switzerland and Northern Italy, from the Iron Age through the Roman period. They mostly spoke the Continental Celtic language called Gaulish....

 overran and temporarily held the city. After this, the walls were rebuilt or extended to properly incorporate the Aventine; this is more or less coincident with the increasing power and influence of the Aventine-based plebeian aediles
Aedile was an office of the Roman Republic. Based in Rome, the aediles were responsible for maintenance of public buildings and regulation of public festivals. They also had powers to enforce public order. There were two pairs of aediles. Two aediles were from the ranks of plebeians and the other...

 and tribunes in Roman public affairs, and the rise of a plebeian nobility.

Rome absorbed many more foreign deities via the Aventine: "No other location approaches [its] concentration of foreign cults". In 392 BC, Camillus
Marcus Furius Camillus
Marcus Furius Camillus was a Roman soldier and statesman of patrician descent. According to Livy and Plutarch, Camillus triumphed four times, was five times dictator, and was honoured with the title of Second Founder of Rome....

 established a temple there to Juno Regina. Later introductions include Summanus
In ancient Roman religion, Summanus was the god of nocturnal thunder, as counterposed to Jupiter, the god of diurnal thunder. His precise nature was unclear even to Ovid....

, c. 278, Vortumnus  c. 264, and at some time before the end of the 3rd century, Minerva
Minerva was the Roman goddess whom Romans from the 2nd century BC onwards equated with the Greek goddess Athena. She was the virgin goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts, magic...



During the Fascist
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

 period, many deputies of the opposition retired on this hill after the murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

 of Giacomo Matteotti
Giacomo Matteotti
Giacomo Matteotti was an Italian socialist politician. On 30 May 1924, he openly spoke in the Italian Parliament alleging the Fascists committed fraud in the recently held elections, and denounced the violence they used to gain votes...

, here ending - by the so-called "Aventine Secession" - their presence at the Parliament and, as a consequence, their political activity.

The hill is now an elegant residential part of Rome with a wealth of architectural interest, including palaces, churches, and gardens, for example, the basilica of Santa Sabina
Santa Sabina
The Basilica of Saint Sabina at the Aventine is a titular minor basilica and mother church of the Roman Catholic Dominican order in Rome, Italy. Santa Sabina lies high on the Aventine Hill, beside the Tiber, close to the headquarters of theKnights of Malta....

 and the Rome Rose Garden
Rome Rose Garden
Rome Rose Garden is a public garden in Rome, Italy, located opposite the Circus Maximus on the Aventine Hill .The park was established in 1931. Over 1100 varieties of roses are grown there, many of them gifts from countries around the world...


Popular culture references

The Aventine Hill is portrayed as a rough working-class area of ancient Rome in the popular Falco series of historical novels
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

 written by Lindsey Davis
Lindsey Davis
Lindsey Davis is an English historical novelist, best known as the author of the Falco series of crime stories set in ancient Rome and its empire.-Biography:...

 about Marcus Didius Falco
Marcus Didius Falco
Marcus Didius Falco is the central character and narrator in a series of novels by Lindsey Davis. Using the concepts of modern detective stories , Davis portrays the world of the Roman Empire under Vespasian...

, a 'private informer' who occasionally works for the Emperor Vespasian
Vespasian , was Roman Emperor from 69 AD to 79 AD. Vespasian was the founder of the Flavian dynasty, which ruled the Empire for a quarter century. Vespasian was descended from a family of equestrians, who rose into the senatorial rank under the Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty...

 and lives in the Aventine. The same image is portrayed in much of the series Rome
Rome (TV series)
Rome is a British-American–Italian historical drama television series created by Bruno Heller, John Milius and William J. MacDonald. The show's two seasons premiered in 2005 and 2007, and were later released on DVD. Rome is set in the 1st century BC, during Ancient Rome's transition from Republic...

, in which the Aventine is the home of Lucius Vorenus. In season two, Vorenus and his friend legionary Titus Pullo seek to maintain order over the various collegia competing there for power.

In the Star Trek: Deep Space 9 relaunch series, Captain Ezri Dax commands the USS Aventine.

See also

  • Seven hills of Rome
    Seven hills of Rome
    The Seven Hills of Rome east of the river Tiber form the geographical heart of Rome, within the walls of the ancient city.The seven hills are:* Aventine Hill * Caelian Hill...

  • Caelian Hill (Celio)
    Caelian Hill
    The Caelian Hill is one of the famous Seven Hills of Rome. Under reign of Tullus Hostilius, the entire population of Alba Longa was forcibly resettled on the Caelian Hill...

  • Capitoline Hill (Capitolino)
    Capitoline Hill
    The Capitoline Hill , between the Forum and the Campus Martius, is one of the seven hills of Rome. It was the citadel of the earliest Romans. By the 16th century, Capitolinus had become Capitolino in Italian, with the alternative Campidoglio stemming from Capitolium. The English word capitol...

  • Cispian Hill (Cispio)
    Cispius is the nomen of the Roman gens Cispia.-Cispius Laevus:The Mons Cispius, or Cispian Hill, is one of several summits of the Esquiline Hill in Rome. The grammarian Festus says that it was named for a Cispius Laevus of Anagnia, of the Publilia voting tribe . This Cispius may be legendary.-M...

  • Esquiline Hill (Esquilino)
  • Janiculum Hill (Gianicolo)
  • Monte Mario
    Monte Mario
    -External links :* * *...

  • Oppian Hill (Oppio)
    Oppian Hill
    The Oppian Hill is the southern spur of the Esquiline Hill , one of the famous Seven Hills of Rome. It is separated from the Cispius on the north by the valley of the Subura, and from the Caelian Hill on the south by the valley of the Colosseum...

  • Palatine Hill (Palatino)
    Palatine Hill
    The Palatine Hill is the centermost of the Seven Hills of Rome and is one of the most ancient parts of the city...

  • Pincian Hill (Pincio)
    Pincian Hill
    The Pincian Hill is a hill in the northeast quadrant of the historical center of Rome. The hill lies to the north of the Quirinal, overlooking the Campus Martius...

  • Quirinal Hill (Quirinale)
    Quirinal Hill
    The Quirinal Hill is one of the Seven Hills of Rome, at the north-east of the city center. It is the location of the official residence of the Italian Head of State, who resides in the Quirinal Palace; by metonymy "the Quirinal" has come to stand for the Italian President.- History :It was...

  • Vatican Hill (Vaticano)
    Vatican Hill
    Vatican Hill is the name given, long before the founding of Christianity, to one of the hills on the side of the Tiber opposite the traditional seven hills of Rome...

  • Velian Hill (Velia)
    Velian Hill
    The Velia — or Velian Hill or Velian Ridge — is a saddle or spur stretching out from the middle of the north side of the Palatine Hill towards the Oppian Hill ....

  • Viminal Hill (Viminale)
    Viminal Hill
    The Viminal Hill is the smallest of the famous seven hills of Rome. A finger-shape cusp pointing toward central Rome between the Quirinal Hill to the northwest and the Esquiline Hill to the southeast, it is home to the Teatro dell'Opera and the Termini Railway Station.At the top of Viminal Hill...

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